Near Melrose, the Big Hole River  leaves its steep-sided canyon and resolutely flows to its appointment with the Beaverhead River. This is a good place to leave I-15 and follow old Highway 10. From Glen, off-road enthusiasts can follow a gravel road along the Big Hole River as it trends east to the Beaverhead. It’s a pretty drive, becoming dramatic as it approaches historic Beaverhead Rock from its back side.
Melrose lollygags along the old rail sidings that spawned its early growth, a town caught in the midst of a stretching exercise. This pleasant hamlet is known for its fishing; with several fishing-access sites, an attractive motel, a cabin resort, a café, and bars, it’s no wonder that anglers flock here.
Head west out of Melrose up Trapper Creek (Rd. 40), then Canyon Creek (Rd. 41) to the Lion Creek trail, a nine-mile loop from the campground at road’s end to Lion Lake and back again. From the lake, a hike up nearby Sharp Mountain will give you a pretty good chance of spotting mountain goats.
As elsewhere on the Big Hole, it’s easy to find an outfitter to guide you to the fish. Sundown Outfitters (406/835-3474) is associated with the Sunrise Fly Shop and offers big-game hunting in addition to fishing trips.
The Sportsman Motel (N. Main St., 406/835-2141, $61–96) is a handsome log motel complex with gas barbecue grills, horse boarding (other pets are allowed too), laundry facilities, and an RV park. Two private cabins ($96) and a two-bedroom log house ($250 per night, three-night minimum) are also available.
Head 4.5 miles south of town on the frontage road to Great Waters (406/835-2024, www.greatwatersinn.com , $2,490 per week includes all meals and guide), an attractive fishing resort with a guide service and a good restaurant in the lodge. Nonanglers can stay for $150 per night (includes meals).